Case study: Increasing Pension Credit uptake in Age-friendly Communities
Age-friendly Communities are well placed to help residents to access the millions of pounds that go unclaimed in benefits for older people. This case study brings together examples that could be adopted in your place.
A number of Age-friendly Communities, including Greater Manchester and London, have been running Pension Credit uptake campaigns, to help get more money into older people's pockets. Historically, there has been a high proportion of eligible non-claimants for Pension Credit so there's a significant opportunity to take action locally.
Pension Credit is extra money designed to help with daily living costs for people over state pension age and on a low income. Despite national campaigns, there's still a lack of awareness and perceived eligibility, with the amount going unclaimed estimated to be £1.7bn nationally.
For older people, a successful application for Pension Credit could mount to an additional £3,300 a year to help with living costs, with even small Pension Credit awards granting eligibility to other benefits including housing costs, council tax, and heating bills. With rising costs of living, promoting Pension Credit is a key way in which Age-friendly Communities can support older adults to live well.
Age-friendly Communities can be well placed to equip others to support Pension Credit uptake, ensuring key messages about Pension Credit can reach different groups in the community. See the “how-to” guide for steps on producing your own campaign, including local estimates about current Pension Credit uptake in your place.
Here are some of the ways that Age-friendly Communities are promoting the uptake of Pension Credit, using a varying amount of resource:
- Promote Gov.uk’s Pension Credit Toolkit or Independent Age’s Credit where it’s due resources alongside local offers of support – host on your website.
- Produce a printable guide with information to support conversations about applying. Include the phone number of an organisation who can help locally.
- Capture real-life stories from local older people about how Pension Credit can help. Include details of where to go for further support.
- Together with a community organisation or Citizens Advice, host a drop-in coffee morning with the opportunity for older people to check if they’re eligible for Pension Credit face-to-face.
- Produce a press release with local data about Pension Credit take-up with local partners working with older people in that area.
- Draft and get support for a letter to come from a local leader, encouraging people to check if they might be eligible, with a local phone number to ring.
- Work with partners including housing providers and local older people to produce a campaign toolkit with local data about Pension Credit take-up.
A successful campaign has the potential to bring more money into the pockets of older people, and in turn benefit the wider community and local economy. For an Age-friendly Community, a joined-up campaign can strengthen cross-sector relationships and provide an opportunity to demonstrate impact and how the age-friendly approach can add value.
I’ve just been to the dentist and for the first time I didn’t have to pay. When you’re just on the state pension you do have to pay. It makes everything easier.
- Work closely with those supporting applications in your local area in order to understand and respond to increased demand. You might be working with a local Age UK, Citizens Advice, or an Advice, support and benefits team in the local authority – communicate effectively and regularly with agencies you are signposting to.
- Together with partners, consider how to monitor impact from the start, as Depart for Work and Pension’s data has a substantial time lag – but don't let challenges collecting data stop you from running a campaign.
- Continue to feedback impact to secure further investment in Pension Credit uptake. Additional funds can be used to increase capacity within teams who are supporting applications.
- Even with “no resource” elements of a campaign, there will always be an element of time involved – hence the value in an Age-friendly co-ordinator in your community. Co-ordinators will be well placed for co-ordinating communications with local partners and agencies, overseeing the production of campaign materials, writing and agreeing press releases, and ensuring the voice of older people is heard.
- Budget for making the materials accessible. Consider who you are targeting, and what are the most appropriate means of communicating the messages, such as translations, easy-read, braille materials or British Sign Language for videos.
- It can be difficult to find older people prepared to talk publicly about Pension Credit. Offer anonymity when you ask for quotes or case studies.
- If you have the resource, make it as easy as possible for partners to support the campaign – share suggested content for newsletters, staff briefings and social media.
- Encourage use of local branding – older people are more likely to respond to organisations they know and trust.